An 18-year-old female Northwestern University student riding a bicycle was struck and killed near the intersection of Sheridan Road and Garrett Place about 5 o’clock this afternoon.

Update 7:55 p.m.: Evanston police now say the cyclist, who was traveling westbound on Northwestern Place, one of three main entrances to the campus, collided with a cement truck that was northbound on Sheridan Road.

Police examining the cement truck involved in the accident. (Bob Parris photo)

Police say the bicyclist was unresponsive when Evanston Fire Department paramedics arrived on the scene. She was transported with multiple injuries to Evanston North Shore University Hospital where she was pronounced dead. The identity of the bicyclist is not being released pending notification of next of kin.

The crash is being investigated by the Evanston Police Department’s Traffic Bureau with the assistance of the Major Crash Assistance Team.

At this preliminary stage, police believe the bicyclist was not wearing a helmet. No citations have been issued to the cement truck operator, a 38-year old Des Plaines man, at this time, police say, but the crash is still under investigation.

Sheridan Road was reopened to traffic shortly after 9 p.m.

Update 6:25 a.m. 9/23/16: Northwestern officials identified the student killed as Chuyuan “Chu” Qiu, a freshman from Nanjing China enrolled in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

Update 10:35 a.m 9/23/16: Police say the preliminary investigation indicates that the truck had a green light when the bicyclist turned into the same traffic lane. There’s also no indication that the truck driver was impaired or distracted. No citations have been issued so far, but police say the investigation continues.

Update 11:23 a.m. 9/23/16: University officials say they’re making counseling services available to students who may have been emotionally impacted by the bicyclist’s death.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Safer roads
    First of all this is a terrible tragedy with a young life suddenly destroyed – my heart goes out to her family and friends.

    I also think that this reinforces the need for safer traffic infrastructure in Evanston. The stretch of Sheridan in front of Northwestern has the heaviest pedestrian and bicycle traffic in the entire town. Yet there are no bike lanes, and this is the only part of Evanston where Sheridan, otherwise a two-lane road, turns into a four-lane racetrack. Bikers face a choice for riding on the road in narrow lanes with fast traffic and put themselves at risk, or ride on a sidewalk that is teeming with pedestrians. It would be much better to rebuild the road with fewer lanes (perhaps two plus a turn lane) and a protected bike lane, so that future tragedies can be avoided.

      1. Let’s hope that this happens,
        Let’s hope that this happens, but it appears that the last action of the city council was to delay this plan. The ongoing discussions about removing the new bike lanes on Dodge are not a good sign.

        1. More on bike lanes

          Everything I hear from city officials is that the re-do of Sheridan, with bike lanes, is on schedule for next year.

          The only change approved to the Dodge bike lanes is to remove bollards separating the parking and auto traffic lanes.

          See this story: 'Bollards begone' sayeth the aldermen.

          My guess is that's all the change we're going to see there — at least as long as the folks who like the lanes make their feelings known.

          Having to pay nearly $1 million to undo the project is a pretty strong incentive to keep it the way it is.

          — Bill

          1. This story is devastating

            This story is devastating. My condolences to all who knew this young woman. Thank you for your careful and thorough reporting on bicycle safety issues, Bill. 

          2. So heartbreaking!

            As a reminder for folks, if you want to support the Dodge Bike Lanes, please sign the petition asking that they remain: Bill – I hope you are right and the only change we see is the recent removal of some bollards on Dodge. I'm sorry for people who park on Dodge and I identify with some of their safety concerns, but they are no different from those of us who live on other artery streets. Oakton/Main/Dempster/Asbury – we all have to check our review mirror before opening our car door to exit our vehicle. Small price to pay to ensure our neighbors who use bicycles are safe from erratic and speeding drivers who are texting or blabbing on the phone instead of paying attention to the road.

          3. Your Petition

            You talk safety for the cyclists. How about a petition to get City Council to require cyclists to all wear helmets.

          4. Seriously? Preaching to the Choir….
            My dad died in a terrible motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet so next time you want to lay a comment out there like that, you might consider you don’t exactly know the previous posters stance on an issue. 🙂

            At any rate, with regard to safety for cyclists, I’m pro-helmet all the way MIJ, but that is for both bicyclists or motorcyclists. We can and should have more than one safety feature…. things don’t need to be one or the other. As for the world we live in, we are only as strong as our weakest link and not everyone agrees or thinks the same on every topic (how boring that would be!). We have to add protections not just because cyclists don’t wear helmets, but also because auto drivers FREQUENTLY break the law and go over the posted SAFE speed for a street. Driverless autos are on the horizon…. maybe those vehicles will bring a level of safety we have not previously been able to appreciate. Until then, we have to deal with what we have.

          5. Because the evidence is not
            Because the evidence is not there. Helmets can help in certain kind of accidents, in particular when riding fast and hitting the pavement after a slide, which is why most race bike rider use helmets. For commuting at moderate speeds in town it is less clear; helmets are of little use when being run over by a truck, which is the most common scenario for fatal bike accidents. There is, however, clear evidence that mandatory helmet use reduces bike riding substantially, which is also counterproductive. So while certainly riders should be encouraged to wear helmets, it is really a minor issue for overall safety and the case for regulation is not there. Other countries such as the Netherlands are much safer for bikers, while hardly anyone uses a helmet.

          6. Helmets are not a panacea

            They are effective in certain types of crashes and irrelevant in others. Helmets offer NO protection when someone is run over and crushed by a large vehicle. In jurisdictions that have implemented helmet laws, bike ridership has gone DOWN. ('s-helmet-law-disaster) ( Doing more to create safe infrastructure and better safety training would be a much more effective solution.

    1. This is not about bike lanes
      I agree this is a terrible tragedy. But this isn’t about bike lanes. This is about the need for bikers to follow established traffic laws. Bike lanes would not have stopped this accident, not crossing against a red light would have. I feel terrible for the driver of the truck who was just driving through his green light and now has to live with the guilt for the rest of his life even though it’s not his fault.

      1. Not about bike lanes?
        “Police say the preliminary investigation indicates that the truck had a green light when the bicyclist turned into the same traffic lane.” If bikes had their own lane this would have absolutely been avoided.

      2. This is the first I have

        This is the first I have heard that she ran a red light. Last night it was reported that she had turned right onto Sheridan and been overtaken by the truck. That leaves a lot of questions unanswered, but the rules of the road usually do allow for a right on red. 

        If Sheridan was designed to slow, not speed, traffic, and channel bikes into protected lanes, that could have saved her life. 

        1. Sheridan is designed to speed

          Sheridan is designed to speed traffic for commuters and others. Flashing speed signs are NOT enough. The same goes for the west end of Central Street where school children cross every single day. If we are to keep our walk-friendly city safe we are going to need to inconvenience drivers. 

          1. Rules of road for bicycles



            When riding your bicycle on Illinois roadways, you must obey the same traffic laws, signs and signals that apply to motorists. Bicyclists must ride in the same direction as other traffic. Riding in the opposite direction of traffic is both dangerous and against the law.



          2. Rules for cyclists, etc….
            While veering off the main topic of cyclists not obeying rules, I’d like to comment that when I am out driving….EVERY person I’ve EVERY suburb, do NOT obey the crosswalk rules, and they cross when the orange hand is clearly visable…indicating they need to wait for the walking symbol. This includes all ages, people pushing strollers against the light, riding bikes against the light…’s EVERYWHERE. I’m amazed that more pedestrians are not getting hit and killed. People are not paying attention to anything, so it seems.

          3. Not to mention Ridge

            Ridge is aso designed for motorist speed and not for anyone who just wants to cross the street.  So at least on Ridge, only the cars crash into one another…especially around Grove and Lake.  Pedestrians learn that if they cannot cross the street in the 10 seconds the signal allows, they just need to wait.

        2. Bicyclist killed on Sheridan

          I saw the video from one of NU cameras. It clearly shows that the cement truck was not speeding and entered the intersection on a green light. The bicyclist had the time to stop but for whatever reason continued onto Sheridan while making a right turn, clipped the cement truck and was run over. I feel sorry that someone died, I feel sorry that the truck driver has to live with this, but it was clearly not his fault and it was obvious that the bicyclist made the wrong decision.


          1. Darting into traffic without warning

            I hope this tragedy – for both the dead student and the truck driver – will alert people to the possibility that bicyclists and motorists alike often dart into traffic without warning. There are many excellent riders/motorists out there. However, it is generally observed that there are many who owe their lives to those of us who do not claim our rightful right-of-way because someone actually does or seems likely to run a stop sign or red light. Even "no turn on red signs" are only good if people obey them!

    2. Biker killed

      This is sad. Instead of feeling sorry for the bicyclists and giving them bike lanes maybe they need to be more accountable and responsible. I am afraid to drive because of them blowing stop sign and stop lights. This is illegal and I think we all learned the rules of the road in 5th grade

  2. Truck route

    If the city hadn't turned Sheridan Road. into a truck route, instead of the designated route of Sherman, to placate one or two homeowners that live on Lincoln, it is  quite possible this tragedy could have been avoided 

  3. NU should build bike lane

    The answer to safe bikes on Sheridan Rd has a very easy solution. NU should build a 2-way bike lane east of the side walk on the east side of Sheridan. Northwestern has plenty of room at that location. Northwestern also has plenty of money to do this and it will save the city a lot of money. It doesn't mean there will not be accidents with other bikes or pedestrians, but it will mean less severe injuries.

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